Australian agency claims blockchain breakthrough

Australian agency claims blockchain breakthrough

A federal science agency in Australia has claimed a world first after completing testing on a global blockchain network that is capable of processing 30,000 cross-border transactions per second.

If the test can be successfully carried into a working model, it could help the banking industry attain the scale needed to put blockchain networks into the mainstream.

The network, called  Red Belly Blockchain, was developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the University of Sydney, and deployed over the Amazon Web Services (AWS) global cloud infrastructure.

It was tested across 1,000 nodes in 14 countries at a benchmark rate of 30,000 transactions per second and with an average latency of three seconds.

According to the developers, the network hopes to solve the scalability issue by using an alternative consensus algorithm instead of the proof-of-work mechanism adopted by most public networks, including bitcoin. 

"Real-world applications of blockchain have been struggling to get off the ground due to issues with energy consumption and complexities induced by the proof of work," said Dr. Vincent Gramoli, a senior researcher at Data61, the technology division of the CSIRO responsible for developing Red Belly.

"The deployment of Red Belly Blockchain on AWS shows the unique scalability and strength of the next generation ledger technology in a global context."

Gramoli says the new approach lies somewhere between the two existing models of public blockchains, where latency is an issue and the consortium approach which can be a barrier to scale.

"So far, blockchain had not shown that it could scale and we wanted to demonstrate that a blockchain technology could scale in the number of participating machines and have performance maintained or improved with an increasing number of participants," he said.

Using 300 machines in a single data centre, Gramoli says that the Red Belly blockchain has processed as much as 660,000 transactions per second. By comparison, traditional payment providers typically process around 56,000 transactions per second. 

The company is not limiting its use to the banking sector but said that there have been some early stage projects involving banks. Meanwhile it is also continuing to with a current round of financing to further commercialise its technology and develop additional features. 

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